21 Jun 2013

More caution called for in PNG government spending commitments

3:05 pm on 21 June 2013

Papua New Guinea's Institute of National Affairs is advising the country's leaders to be more cautious in their spending commitments.

PNG has had a number of years of high growth and the Treasurer, Don Polye, this week predicted economic growth could hit 15 percent in 2015.

The expectation of huge returns from the LNG project and other developments has led the government to promise big lifts in spending across a range of sectors.

The Institute's executive director, Paul Barker, says it will be some time before there are significant returns from the LNG project, while other commodities, including agricultural products, have slumped markedly.

He is warning leaders to be wary.

"Uncertainty over revenue, the low commodity prices now, the uncertainty over how long they will remain low - these would encourage analysts and one would hope governments to be on the cautious side. And certainly one of the lessons hopefully that was learned from the 1990s was that it is very unwise to spend substantially before one has it in the hand."

The Papua New Guinea Institute of National Affairs' Paul Barker